The pediatrician's office gives out animal crackers and stickers after visits. The dentist dispenses little toys in a bucket. Lollipops at the bank, free cookies at the grocery store, crayons and hats at restaurants and almost everywhere else they pass out balloons. American children have become accustomed to getting a free parting gift everywhere they go.
The reward system is bent too. In school, attendance and academic excellence is rewarded with candy and classrooms with ice cream socials, pizza parties, movies. Parents give gifts and money for good grades (as do all the fast food restaurants) which makes no sense to me because if you get good grades: Hooray you are well on your way to a bright future. Not: Hooray here is a Butterfinger and $20.00.
MTV, thank you for producing shows like Teen Cribs, My Sweet Sixteen and The Hills, so instead of dancing to the new Green Day or Lady Gaga video kids can talk at a young age about when they will "get theirs".
And we wonder why children feel so entitled in their late teens and twenties.
Our pubic education system lacks money and what they do have is sometimes appropriated for the most bizarro of things. I understand the need for renovations at schools but no one in their right mind can justify to me why an elementary school needs a digital marquee monument out front when a much cheaper version can be purchased. New computers are worthless if you do not have enough funding to pay a teacher to instruct the technology courses. Honestly, is P.E. really necessary after elementary school, is this not a function of the home, to teach our children to be active? In pure hypocritical fashion, why can my children buy frozen yogurt, cookies, candy and a host of unnatural high fructose foods in a school run cafeteria? Are apples and bananas really too costly, too tainted with pesticides so that eating them is more vile that ingesting the multitude of garbage options heavy with dyes and preservatives served up daily.
I have obviously missed something.
I do not understand how child raising has fallen on the backs of our educational institutions, and when considered necessary (Health or Life Management class) how half-assed it is carried out.
My oldest attends an AP Human Geography class in High School with 12 other students. In a poll taken in her class the other day, 5 of those students remember having gone through sex education in Health. Two of them had discussed with parents at home (2 of the 5, not 2 additional students). So less than half of this class, which is at the top of the barrel academically, remembers any education on sex, home or otherwise.
LESS THAN HALF.
The class was horrified to discover the state of AIDS in Africa and frightened for themselves, most having barely understood what they had been taught prior regarding safe sex practices.
The teacher actually suspended questions the kids were asking that day because they were no longer about Africa, they were about sex and her job, she felt, might be in danger as a result of discussing such things outside of the scope of her lesson plan.
Oh. My. Fucking. Hell.
We fight each other locally about raising sales tax by a half a cent (are you kidding me, half a cent is really too much?) and nationally in Congress so that the threat of not being able to afford higher education looms like a black cloud over so many potential scientists, doctors, engineers who may never be because university tuition is skyrocketing. The cost of a four year college education resulting in a return on investment nightmare (depending on field chosen) for the amount of money a student is left with in loans after graduation.
Advertising is bent towards children and young adults, who whine and cry to their parents about what they must have and absolutely need.
Clue: Clothes, food, roof. Not: Abercrombie Jeans, Mickey Mouse Cereal Bars and PS3 games.
TV, the new babysitter, is fast being replaced by the computer; advertising fine tuned and directed; one click shopping, credit cards stored and now you don't have to even go to the store to purchase your latest poison.
Virtual worlds are creating a new breed of detached individuals who are taught the basics of socializing online through animals and childlike creatures mimicking the same environments they see their parents use every day; preparation so that when age brings access to MySpace, Facebook, cellphones and texting, they are already more knowledgeable than you on how and what.
Oh my ever-loving, masked identity, filter lacking, ticking time bomb of drama and psychological/social/emotional destruction.
All this distraction.
All this misdirection.
We have not been good stewards.
My parental guilt is overwhelmingly large today.
I am gonna cry and all I really wanted was a free cookie.